PLUMBLINE -- Editor, Wayne Coats

Vol. 4 No. 5,    Dec. 1999

What "A Mess"

The above title is a copy of the Out Front column of the front page of the Religion section of the Abilene Reporter News (Saturday, October 2, 1999). One of our members brought their paper to me on Sunday asking if I had seen the announcement (I had overlooked it). I went to Abilene Tuesday to see a brother at the hospital and decided to go to this meeting at the Highland Church of Christ.

I arrived at the building at 6:15p.m. and really had no idea what to expect. I have had some experience with the "Walk to Emmaus" and knew it was an attempt to "connect" with the Spirit (over a weekend retreat). This program originated in the Methodist church.

I feared the Highland congregation might play taped instrumental music during the service. I was wrong on this. They did not play taped music, they had the real thing. That's right, a full blown band. Four women singers who sang and played a variety of instruments for the duration of the service. I walked into the auditorium and right into a concert. These women also led the singing (with the instruments) during the "service part" of the gathering.

They showed the Emmaus instructional video as advertised. The thrust of the video was consistent with what I have been told by those who have gone on the "walks" -- namely, that on these retreats the Spirit reveals Himself in a variety of ways and guides (directly) those who seek His presence. The video is basically a collection of "testimonials," geared to convince the audience that something (the Holy Spirit) is missing and this "walk" can get you connected.

After the video, the all girl band played and led the audience in more songs. All the songs were sung as the audience stood and swayed with hands in the air (in true Pentecostal fashion). Brethren, only the fact that I had not eaten since breakfast kept me from getting physically ill during all this vain worship (Matt. 15:7-9). During this segment of song the plate was also passed to help sponsor more and more Emmaus events.

I was sure by this time that I could not be surprised by anything else that was to happen, but I was sadly mistaken. Eddie Sharp (ACU instructor and the pulpit minister for the University congregation in Abilene) approached the stage. He read (after stating that the Spirit had been stirred) the "liturgy." I don't know what other word to use for it. He asked the audience to get out their "purple book" (some Emmaus creed book, or some such thing). He would read certain sections or passages from the "purple book" (not the Bible, nor were the passages scriptures) and the audience would repeat the lines. In others, he would read a certain part and they would finish by reading the rest and say amen etc... It was just like watching the Catholics doing their "liturgy."

He then led them in a confessional type prayer where the whole crowd confessed to several sins (collectively) and asked to be forgiven. This segment was reminiscent of the group crying and mass repentance of the Promise Keepers. It was a written prayer that was read, very little feeling, just vain repetitions (Matt. 6).

After a few more songs, Eddie Sharp took the stage again and presented the message of the hour. He began by running down the church. In fact, his introductory comment was that as a church of Christ preacher he wasn't used to preaching to a crowd where everyone was invited. This is a blatant attempt to paint the church in a negative light. (I'm sure Jesus was impressed with this smart-alec man running down and making light of His bride, the body He heads and died for (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:23-25). Since when have we not "invited" everyone to come and study God's word with us. This is a lie, and a disgraceful attempt to taint the reputation of members who have labored for years in evangelistic efforts sacrificing and working tirelessly to fund and build both the building at Highland as well as the university were he draws his pay check.

Other snide comments were made at the expense of the church as well. He then went on to laud the "Emmaus Movement" (He clearly holds it in much higher regard than the Lord's church). He plainly and specifically taught that it does not matter where you worship or what "tradition of faith" you're in, just serve Jesus. He said we are to follow the fight of Jesus wherever it leads us. If it leads us to stay in our current church, fine, if it leads us to change churches then we should do just that.

The Bible doesn't give us a smorgasbord of churches to choose from. Ephesians 4:4ff makes it clear there is only one body. In Matthew 16:13-18, Jesus promised to build one church. Eddie Sharp needs to put away his "purple book" and pick up his Bible and read it.

You cannot go to heaven and not be a member of the Lord's church. Acts 2:47 says that God adds the saved to the church. Eddie Sharp and his ACU buddies can scream and holler ecumenicalism and denominationalism as often and loudly as they like, but it is still a damnable doctrine that will cost them their souls (John 14:6; Matt. 7:21-23). There is no multiplicity of churches in the Bible.

Perhaps the saddest phrase of the entire speech came during Sharp's introduction when he informed the audience that He had delivered the material we were about to hear to his class at ACU earlier in the day. What a crying shame. Teaching our youth that they are part of a denomination that is just like the man-made self-seeking bodies that have no regard for the Bible at all. Brethren, we send our children off to a "Christian" school to be prepared to fight against the doctrines of Satan, yet Satan has infiltrated the very classrooms we, the church, have built. Our unsuspecting youth is often-times turned over to these men and women who are bent on turning the church into a denomination. It is high time many of us woke up to what is happening around us. Sticking our head in the sand is not going to help. Refusing to see and listen to warnings will only allow those who have no love for the church to do more to defile as many of her children as possible.

After the "Sermon from Hell" (my title, not his, ML) Sharp announced that we were about to have communion (the Lord's Supper) yes, that's right it was Tuesday night (I stress again, these people don't care what the Bible says about the Lord's Supper or anything else. They will, and are, doing anything and everything they want to). He was kind enough to mention that he realized many people were not used to this, and if we didn't feel comfortable doing it then we could abstain (mighty nice of him).

He then discussed the manner in which it would be taken (I don't know why it mattered at this juncture). He said that it would be taken by "inction." That's how he spelled it. He then stated that he really thought the "Emmausians" just made it (inction) up. He said that "inction" was taking the piece of bread and dipping it into the juice then (after the bread soaked up the juice) it was to be taken all at once. I know, Jesus and the apostles partook of them separately (Matt. 26) as did the early church (1 Cor. 11), but our brethren at Highland and Eddie Sharp aren't impressed with that, they would rather please their denominational harlots, and do what feels good to them than stay true to God's way (James 4:4).

The communion itself was also very Catholic in its order. Brother Sharp took a large piece of bread (a loaf, I couldn't tell if it was leaven or unleaven, but again I know it doesn't matter to them one way or the other) and stood down front (with his Emmaus cross around his neck) and broke off small pieces and gave it to the laity (people) as they passed by. He said something to them (it looked just like a Catholic priest blessing the Sacrament) and they would pass from him to another man who held a large goblet of juice. They would then dip the bread into the juice and take it. This fiasco concluded the service, and the crowd went out to the foyer where the "host" congregation (Highland) had prepared quite a spread of snacks.

Over-all it was a sickening night. I could not help but think of the changes in that congregation since it's formation in 1948. It should stand as a warning to us all to "contend for the faith" (Jude 3), for if we don't, the truth will be lost.

--Michael Light

(I audio taped the entire event so as to have documentation of what happened)


Student Withdraws Pleads For

Communication From Leaders

The Babbler is a student newspaper at David Lipscomb University and the November 12, 1999 paper carried an article with the above caption which was written by Zachary Hall Sutherland.

It seems that Sutherland does not like what the University has in its offerings. He says he has become stressed out and is, "...overcome by chronic depression brought on by my experience here this semester and will return home to seek treatment."

Poor soul! With all the horde of psychologists, counselors, doctors this and doctors that, and so forth and so on, it boggles my mind that a student has to find treatment elsewhere. I can understand why a young person who believes the Word of God, loves the truth, and desires to live by it would withdraw from Lipscomb but this might not be the reason young Sullivan has withdrawn--as his article will show.

I have learned of other students who have been deeply depressed while attending Lipscomb due to the liberalism which has been spit out by professors. Do not try to refute this.

Sullivan's problems began, so he says, "with the decisions made by the administration and the Board of Directors regarding Professor Doug Varnado." The Varnado incident has received National Coverage in the media which from the very outset was a demonstration reaching down into the depths of duplicity.

According to press releases, Varnado who has become the minister of the Hendersonville Community Church, expressed his intention to introduce mechanical music into the services, as was done during a previous gathering of the church.

It is in order to ask if Varnado considered himself as a permanent fixture at Lipscomb? Did he survey the situation and feel safe with his "infamous box?" Did he conclude (since F. LaGard Smith, who worshipped six months in England with an instrumental group and who had been hired as a teacher at Lipscomb) that not an eyebrow would be raised by the Lipscomb Gurus against the Community program? He could have reasoned thusly.

Did Varnado reason that since various Lipscomb wheels had rolled out to the Community Church to speak, that surely they would not put on the brakes when the band blared forth? He could have reasoned thusly.

Did Varnado reason that since so many of the Administration and Faculty swaggered over to Rubel Shelly's Church and supported Rubel as he traipsed over the nation fellowshipping and speaking where instrumental music has been used, that surely no not one would gnash their teeth at the sound of the melodeon? Yes, he could have reasoned thusly.

President Steve Flatt went over to Smyrna, Tenn. and praised Jeff Walling to the heavens. Jeff thinks it is alright to use mechanical music. No one can out-do Walling in making fun of sound brethren unless it is Rubel Shelly. Did Doug mis-judge Steve and his Board? A reliable source informs me that if Varnado had kept quiet about his fiddles, he would still be educating Lipscomb young people. Doug could have reasoned that Flat would fiddle with him. If anyone thinks Varnado was dismissed from Lipscomb because of real Biblical Convictions, as we used to say, let him stand on his head. I do not know that Varnado was dismissed. He may have resigned with fastings and prayers.

The complete absurdity underlying the whole ungodly affair can be seen in the modus operandi of Lipscomb liberals. Varnado and all the other Professors certainly know the history, purpose and interest of the founders of Lipscomb. Do you think the liberal element has any regard for the tradition of the school? The practice has been for the modernists and liberals to sneak in privily posing as lily-white sheep and then show their fangs as wolves in sheep's clothing...when the time is right. I know how the liberals operate. Liberals are thieves.

I truly believe the young student hit the nail on the head when he wrote, "It seems the current administration has a callous and uncaring attitude...." This has been apparent when so many have tried to get the attention of the Lipscomb powers-that-be regarding liberalism on the campus. Flagrant denial will work for awhile.

Of course I view the problems of the school from a different perspective than young Sutherland. He seems to think that the Administration does not deem the student body to be very important. My viewpoint has been that the Administration does not concern itself with people who are not filthy rich, who are not liberals and who refuse to kow-tow to eggheads.

Is it the truth that, "a large portion of the students I talked to were here because their parents sent them here. They have little or no faith of their own, and they don't care to be here." What an indictment! What a curse to humanity! What a waste of time, effort and money! Perhaps the chronic depression may have caused a hyperbole. How many students did Sullivan talk to? Can it be that a large number of Lipscomb students do not want to be Lipscomb students? Of course the answer depends upon which students are quizzed.

I am really surprised that there are so many atheists who are Lipscomb students. "They have little or no faith of their own." What a tragedy! One mother wrote me with tears, grieving over the fact that she had sent her son to Lipscomb and he returned home as an infidel. His faith had been destroyed! I understand, and so do others. This is not a PLUMBLIE, even if Steve Flatt might think so.

Please, "They find chapel and mandatory Bible grueling are trite, if not offensive." I am sure such is true. Do students and their parents not know about mandatory Bible classes before the chaps enroll at Lipscomb? What kind of Bible class would not be offensive to some students? Any sort of class which demands discipline and study is a horrible experience to many young people. How well do I remember!

> What of the Chapel? The last time I visited the Lipscomb Chapel assembly, I do not think I was offended but rather I was thoroughly disgusted with what I saw and hard. I cannot think that my faith was destroyed. A Lipscomb student had called me and related an incident where another student had fallen out in the aisle during a chapel service which Varnado was conducting. I went out to see how the modern Holyrollers were acting at chapel.

The Sutherland charge that the school does not, "...adapt to changing times," is pure poppycock. He thinks it doesn't but I know it does. The school has lost its identity as a faith building institution. It's aim, purpose and program is to cater to the secular business world with a very little regard for biblical truth.

I think the erstwhile student needs to check the deed and charter of the school before asserting that mandatory chapel is in the deed. I know not who is invited to speak to the chapel assembly but I do know that for awhile there were two different groups meeting for Chapel exercises. Rubel Shelly was invited to speak and one faculty member stated that he could always find something to do in his office when Shelly was invited.

It would be interesting to know about the health and happiness of young Zachary Hall Sutherland. There is an old axiom which states, "misery loves company." It is the truth that there are many righteous souls who are depressed, chagrined, disturbed, disgusted, weary, heavy-hearted, dejected, discouraged, sad and melancholy over the conditions at Lipscomb but we are not ready to withdraw our complaints.

--Wayne Coats, Editor

For These Things I Weep

Jerry C. Brewer

"For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate because the enemy prevailed" (Lamentations 1:16).

Ninety five years of gospel preaching, snatching souls from error and glorifying Christ at Elk City, Oklahoma, is being eroded by a compromising spirit in the leadership of the Second and Adams church. Replacing the certain sound of the gospel there, are the obfuscations of error and the ambiguities of Ashdod. That spirit is manifested in a brochure mailed recently to Elk City residents. Written under the headings of Our Heritage, Our Building, Our Fellowship, Our Preachers, Our People and Our Pastors, the brochure attempts to explain to visitors what to "expect when you honor us with a visit." From beginning to end, it's filled with the language of compromise and doctrinal error and indicates that the leadership of the Second and Adams church in Elk City no longer stands in the old paths. For these things I weep.

Our Heritage... We are a part of the Restoration Movement. Our desire is to restore the New Testament church in our day. We have studied hard to find out what the church was like in the beginning and to pattern ourselves after that. We believe this is the worthiest of goals. We want very much to be a Bible centered church. To us, the Bible is the sole authority in all religious matters. Our conclusions aren't flawless. That is why we say "In essentials--unity. In opinions --liberty. In all things--love."

Avoiding any mention of the church of promise, prophecy, preparation, and perfection, purchased with the blood of God's sinless Son (Gen. 12:3; Isa. 2:2-4; Matt. 3:1-2; 16:13-19; Acts 2; 20:28), they boldly declare they are a "part of the Restoration Movement." So are The Disciples of Christ and the Independent Christian Church denominations. Which "part" is Second and Adams? The church of Christ is the kingdom of God that springs from the seed of the kingdom, not a "part" of some "movement" (Luke 8:11). Solomon said "there is no new thing under the sun" (Eccl. 1:9). Confirming that truth, the Second and Adams leadership is just now catching up with Logan J. Fox and his skewed view of the church. It was 30 years ago that the apostate Fox wrote his comments on the church's "heritage."

The Church of Christ is a historical movement. It is one branch of the Restoration Movement, a nineteenth century reform movement in America associated largely with the names of Thomas and Alexander Campbell. The original movement was conceived as being a part of Protestantism and must be classed with other 'free church' movements. One branch of this movement likes to think of itself as being the main Campbellian stream while the others are 'digressive.' (Voices of Concern, "Destiny or Disease," pp. 28,29).

Does Second and Adams consider itself "the main Campbellian stream" or "digressive?" What is wrong with saying "we have restored" the New Testament church?

The very idea of a 'movement' involves that one has not yet arrived at his desired destination... A movement is designed to get us someplace... Now, when one tacks the word 'restoration' onto the beginning of the word 'movement,' obtaining the phrase 'restoration movement,' we get this concept: not yet having arrived at restoration... Once we have restored the church, the movement to the church is finished. Thus, we are no longer in a movement to restore the church, but we are in the church which has been restored. God is not going to save a movement toward restoration. God is going to save those who have been restored; God is going to save the church... I want to be a member of that which has been restored, the Lord's body, his church. I will teach what the Bible teaches; I will be a part of the church for which the Lord died and shed his blood, and I will reject what these so-called scholars are calling the 'restoration movement.' Really, it takes only one generation to fully restore the church. Once that restoration process is complete, the movement has ended. (Kevin Cauley, "When Does A Movement End?" Contending For The Faith, Vol XXVII, No. 8, Aug., 1996 p. 5).

> Does Second and Adams want to be Bible centered or is it Bible centered? Jesus said, "He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my word hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). The word of God is the absolute truth and rule of faith and practice in all religious matters (Col. 3:17). Yet, Second and Adams soft-pedals the truth by saying, "To us, the Bible is the sole authority in all religious matters." Most denominational preachers say the same thing. The Bible is the sole authority in religion whether it is to us or not. Further muddying already murky doctrinal waters, they say "Our conclusions aren't flawless." If our conclusions are Bible conclusions they are flawless because God's word is truth (John 17:17). When I conclude one must be baptized in order to be saved because Jesus said so in Mark 16:16, that conclusion is flawless. If we can't know that, then Jesus lied when he said "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

Our Fellowship... Because of our heritage and striving to restore the worship of the first century, we sing a cappella. That is, we sing without the accompaniment of musical instruments. This is a conviction (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) and a preference with us.

The New Testament church sings because singing is commanded (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), not "because of our heritage," a "conviction" or a "preference." The Christian Church uses instruments because of their "heritage" and because it is their "conviction" and "preference." It is the "conviction" of Baptists and Presbyterians that musical instruments are acceptable in worship. Is Second and Adams striving to restore "the worship of the first century" or has that worship been restored? How difficult is it to "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11)?

When did a capella singing become a "preference?" Does that mean if a majority of members at Second and Adams "preferred" a piano, one would be installed? Is baptism for the remission of sins a command or just a "preference" or "conviction" because of "our heritage?" Does Second and Adams practice immersion because of a "conviction," a "preference" born of a "heritage" or because it is commanded by Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)?

Our Preachers... At the close of the sermon, the preacher will extend an invitation. This is simply an expedient time to invite listeners to make a commitment or request prayer (Acts 2:37-41). If someone responds for baptism, they will be baptized right then. It will not be postponed to a latter (sic) time. The baptism will be immersion for the remission of sins. The word baptism means immersion. It will be a burial in water for the remission of sins (Rom. 6:4-6; Gal. 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21).

The words "commitment" and "prayer" cannot be found in Acts 2:37-41. Unlike the leadership at Second and Adams, the apostle Peter plainly told his hearers what they needed to do. He didn't say "commit yourselves." He said "repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38). Why place the ambiguous denominational concept of the invitation (commitment and prayer) ahead of the New Testament teaching about baptism? Second and Adams also needs to "strive to restore" the "great plainness of speech" of the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 3:12).

Our People... Our people at Second & Adams Church of Christ are pretty much the entire spectrum, as in any group. You will find traditionalists...and you will find those eager to try anything new. You will find legalists and liberals and a lot of people between. You will find happy people and grouchy people. Friendly and unfriendly. Loving and disagreeable. People who are learning and people who seem to know it all. People who are holy and people you might be surprised to see in church! You get the picture! We are a diverse group, coming from different backgrounds and cultures, and at different stages of knowledge and spiritual growth.

We don't know everything. We don't do everything perfectly. We don't always treat each other as we should. We haven't arrived -- we're on the journey. However, we are not brought together by any illusion of our perfection or righteousness. We are brought together by our recognition that we are sinners in need of the cleansing blood of Christ, our Lord. That's the reason we can stick together.

Denominating themselves "Second and Adams Church of Christ," and without defining their terms, they speak of those among their number who are "traditionalists...those eager to try anything new...legalists and liberals." Rubel Shelly would feel right at home with all this oxymoronic "unity in diversity."

The umbrella statement that "We don't know everything...We haven't arrived -- we're on the journey...we are not brought together by any illusion of our perfection or righteousness," but by "our recognition that we are sinners in need of the cleansing blood of Christ, our Lord," is denominational and smacks of agnosticism. The generalization that we need the "cleansing blood of Christ" is accepted by every denominational preacher in town. But explain how we obtain the benefits of his cleansing blood through baptism into his death and they'll oppose it to a man. Why not teach the whole counsel of God on salvation?

>While no one claims Christians are perfect, they are righteous when they obey the gospel. Paul said the gospel reveals the "righteousness of God" (Rom. 1:16-17). The righteousness of God in that passage doesn't refer to God's attributes but to His standard. The gospel is God's standard of righteousness and those who obey it are righteous or justified in His sight (cf. Rom. 10:1-4).

Apologetically, Second and Adams says "we haven't arrived -- we're on the journey" and "That's the reason we can stick together." Arrived at what? Heaven or the truth? If they mean heaven, that's true. None of us is there yet. If they mean a knowledge of the absolute truth, that's the language of agnosticism. We may not have arrived at heaven, but we can absolutely know we have arrived at the Way which leads there. The apostle John used the word "know" 26 times in his first epistle. Among those things he said we can know is that we are of the truth (1 John 3:19). The reason Christians can "stick together" is because they know and walk in the light of the truth (1 John 1:6-7). What brings people together in the church is what makes them Christians -- obedience to the gospel and what keeps them together is speaking "the same thing" (1 Cor. 1:10).

> It was at Second and Adams that my father and youngest brother were baptized into Christ in the 1960s and it was there I received much of the encouragement that led me to preach the gospel. Now it is different. I weep for the memory of sound men who once thundered the gospel from its pulpit and for godly elders who once stood like a mighty phalanx in Jehovah's army. Being led away from the ancient order by a leadership which speaks the language of Ashdod, many good people still lend their support and influence to Second and Adams.

618 Santa Fe Drive

Clinton, OK 73601


Shelly's Unity Is Really Division

Wineskins! What is it? To all those who strive to keep abreast of matters, Wineskins is a paper co-edited by Rubel Shelly and Mike Cope. The September-October 1999 issue has just arrived in the mail.

And what is Wineskins? It is a paper of the most flagrant infidelity and contradicting ideas. The present issue features articles titled, "In pursuit of Unity" by Rubel Shelly; "Unity Despite Diversity" by Mike Cope; "The Unity Principle" by Doug Foster; and a hodge podge of slurp by Phillip Morrison which he calls "Afterglow."

I would not write the above if the writers were not mutilating the real sense of Bible Unity. Their scribbling is not new to readers of the Old Christian Standard as edited by Isaac Everett. The liberal Standard made the same flimsy blunders as Shelly and his crew are now making. In fact, it would be quite reasonable to conclude that the present liberals lift their pieces right out of the old Standard, but of course I am too loving and nice to make any such charges. I just read and occasionally smirch.

In his piece, "In Pursuit of Unity," Shelly says, "the human presumption seems to be that one's own understanding at the moment is the truth and that anyone who holds a contrary view is wrong and unworthy of fellowship. Thus the arrogance of sectarianism." "...Thus the harsh judgements so often made by one person or group against another."

The old axiom is bright and shiny which declares, "No man is so blind as he who will not see." No better application of this axiom could ever be used than when applied to the ramblings of Shelly and his crew.

Shelly discredits the idea that another's, "own understanding at the moment is the truth and that anyone who holds a contrary view is wrong and unworthy of fellowship." That might make sense to those content to grovel in non-sense. The statement rejects the notion that one can understand and know the truth. The liberal, modernistic gang will close their eyes to the truth.

I ask if Shelly would claim to know and present the truth? How is it that others are guilty of arrogant sectarianism when they claim to know and teach the truth? Does Rubel claim to know the truth about the claims concerning others of which he speaks? When I insist that I know the truth regarding salvation and state plainly and precisely that those who differ from the truth are wrong, Rubel pontificates that such convictions make me guilty of arrogant sectarianism. Shelly the Great can be little, put down and consign others to the pits of arrogant sectarianism, but never, no never would he be arrogant.

Pardon my plainness of speech but it is the depths of duplicity and the height of stupidity to take the position or insinuate that it is wrong and arrogant to oppose and expose error. Shelly and other liberals can use some "harsh judgments" against others, but their inconsistency doesn't seem to bother them.

Do not be disturbed when Shelly writes about my brethren who are guilty of "arrogant sectarianism." He is the one who has the liberty to write about those who use, "harsh judgements." The liberals are all alike. They never make any sense.

If we are guilty of, "sectarian arrogance" when we claim to have the truth, oppose and expose error, then of what was Shelly guilty when he debated Dr. Hector Avalos at Ames, Iowa in 1998? What sort of sectarian was Shelly when he debated Dan Barker in Alabama, November 12, 1998? Did Shelly oppose what he conceived to be error? Did Shelly advocate the truth? Did he think his opponents were wrong? Will he fellowship those two characters who deny the fundamental principles of truth?

Rubel, along with others of like disbelief, doubt, and denial, are very picky as to those deemed worthy of fellowship. Their false teaching needs to be exposed regarding Unity. Lord willing, I will try to address the matter in due time in another booklet. The non-sense of liberals need to be exposed and refuted, and do not ever forget, the liberals never make any sense.

--Wayne Coats, Editor

Agent's View A Raving Change

The church needs to change if it's going to last,
We can't hold tenaciously to beliefs of the past.
If to the masses we're going to appeal,
We'll have to preach "grace only," love, and certainly zeal.

But do not preach against dancin' and drinkin'
> That type of preaching is yesterday's thinkin'
Discuss philosophy and weight loss-quote notable PhD's
> Baby-boomers delight to hear from people with degrees!

Women preachers-once forbidden-to the ladies you must cater.
After all, everyone knows that Paul was just a woman hater.
> And kids need separate worship-traditional church is too dry.
"Give us entertainment and frolic," our spoiled teenagers cry.

The NIV is our version of choice, because it's so easy to read.
> Forget that it's rank and ripe with Calvinistic creed.
Give us some actors, some drama, please-they liven the worship hour.
We're tired of Bible thumpin' sermons that leave us bored and sour.

We need a smooth preacher-one that never offends.
> He better make us happy-on this his job depends!
His sermons should be short and cute; but his doctrine need not be true,
Cause doctrine changes with the times (I heard that at ACU).

A minister to youngsters-they need our attention.
> He'll take them to Disney World, and, oh, did I mention,
They must be entertained, and be sure to water down the truth,
Lest they leave and join themselves to the Baptist or Methodist Youth.

Give me "Image" or "Wineskins," now that's good stuff.
Even if bereft of scripture and filled with religious fluff.
I hate "Contending For The Faith;" "Firm Foundation," I won't read.
I like articles written by Max Lucado, and some by Michael Weed.

Now the really progressive minds attend the Jubilee.
> I saw Rubel there, and he wants to know, "Where'd you get your PhD?"
There's my hero-Rubel Shelly, along with his protege Steve Flatt,
Rubel's chair is empty-I'll sit here, and proudly say, "I sat where Rubel sat."

Now where am I? There's lots of folks here. It must be Judgement Day.
The Lord is talking-I think it's to me, "Excuse me, What did you say?"
The words I hear are sobering-to me they seem so strange,
For the Lord is sternly asking me, "Who said my church needed change?"
                Lynn Parker
                --used by permission

People, Places, Things

One never knows what one will find out when one reads the bulletin from Rubel Shelly's church in Nashville. The latest piece is a very straight forward bit of advice, with a warning for the older people. Yes sir! Rubel is deeply concerned about the con-artists and rip-off schemes which prey on the elderly at this time of year. One can almost feel the flowing tears from Shelly eyes as he laments the scams used to deceive so many people.

We are prone to say, "Physician, heal thyself." I may be expected by some to do a lengthy time of penance, spend millions of years in purgatory or end up in a worse place, but in utmost sincerity and in all gravity, my honest conviction is that Nashville Tennessee has never had a greater deceiver than Rubel Shelly. I am too nice to say, con-artist, or scam-operator. Far be it from me. Perish the thought! I can prove by the inspired Word of God that Rubel is deceiving the hearts of the simple-minded just as readily as any number of false teachers and con-artists are running loose on the streets of Nashville. So much of the great amount of instruction contained in the Bible regarding false teachers deceiving people, falls on deaf ears. Wonder when Rubel will get around to warning people about con-artists, and scam-operators in the realm of religion? He won't.

Did you see the fine print in the catalog sent out by Alvin Jennings? He was the fellow who wrote the book, "How Christianity Grows in the City." I wrote an answer to the Crossroads-Boston foolishness propounded by Jennings. It is very interesting that Jennings dedicated his silly book to the Boston Cult, but now he says since the Boston Movement has gone so far out, he has rescinded that wonderful, marvelous dedication.

Jennings started his own church out in Texas and advertised himself as the "Angel of the Church." I wonder if Alvin is still an angel or if he has been self-beatified, or become an apostle like Don Finto in Nashville?

Alvin tried to cuddle up to the Boston Cult and they moved in an ousted him from his own church, so I'm told. Like so many of the catalogues, magazines, booklets, etc. it looks as if brother Jennings is not too discriminating in that which he offers to sell.


A large catalog is in hand from the Mars Hill Book Store in Florence, Alabama. There are 111 pages of materials offered for sale. Yes sir, brethren you can purchase all kinds of Bibles, from the NIV rot on up to versions which you probably never heard about.

The book store offers books by Charles Swindoll and his good buddy Max Lucado who has sixteen books offered. Then there are books by Marvin Phillips, Terry Rush, Mike Cope, Willard Tate, LaGard Smith, James Dobson, Leonard Allen, Jim Woodruff, Rubel Shelly--and so on and so forth. Whatever the liberal gut can digest, one can find it at Mars Hill. No thanks!

If one cannot find what makes one feel good at some of the school book stores in the south, one can stock up from the Christian Chronicle offerings out in Oklahoma. I still think a lot of Christians(??) would sell their baby's eyeballs if a fast buck could be made. Peddling false doctrine by false teachers is a mighty sorry way to make a living.


It has been the general rule that schools will remain fairly close to the purpose and plans of their founders until they can raise enough money to become independent of individuals and congregations. Then the schools sneer and snarl at the former contributors who try to give advice. The old Digressives used to say, "we don't need you any longer. Go somewhere else."


Pepperdine University has surpassed its goal of $300 million dollars. How much money is that? Pepperdine as well as other schools has long since sold out to the modernists and liberals. Do not tell anyone I said it, but everyone needs to know that the greatest curse to the church of Christ can be found in some of the schools.


The first time I ever say Earl West was when he spoke at Freed-Hardeman College over fifty years ago. His subject pertained to Restoration History and I must admit that a flame was kindled in my heart to dig, delve, scratch and spade as deeply as possible into the rich resources of church history. The last time I saw brother West was when we appeared on a lectureship together. I will notice a few remarks attributed to Earl West in an interview by Scott Morris which was published by the Christian Chronicle. Please note:

"There's a different atmosphere today."

"We certainly don't care as much about our history as we should."

"Even some of our pulpit ministers are at war with the past."

"The churches of Christ will look very much like the Conservative Christian Churches of today."

"Women will become more involved and play a greater leadership role in the church."

"Its all part of an effort for the church to be socially accepted by the religious world. And as a result, our preaching will be patterned more like [that of] the denominational world."

"It takes courage to stand up against popular feelings, and I'm afraid we'll see fewer courageous people."

"There will always be an element that stays grounded in the truth."

I agree with the observations by Earl West and have been trying to say such things and more, through the Plumbline pages. Of course there is a majority of people who will not give heed to warnings. History is repeating itself, but that matters not one whit to people who are determined to have their own way.

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